I read a really good article in my Oprah magazine about being open to new experiences and chance encounters...similar to one of the comments to my last post.
On Friday, my cousin Rob who attends West Point came to the city to celebrate his 21st birthday. He asked me to meet him and his friends for dinner at a restaurant in Little Italy that caters to military guys and West Point cadets. Getting off the subway and walking to the place, I was immersed in Chinatown. It's amazing how it feels like a different country. First, I had to walk through the vendors hawking most-likely-illegal wares. There was a guy saying "Rolexrolexrolexrolex" without pause. (I tried to repeat it and found it to be a tongue-twister!) Then you pass the different markets, and there are so many fruits, vegetables and other things that I can't identify. At a corner, I waited for the light to change and noticed I'm the tallest woman by head and shoulders. I was surrounded by petite Asian women, and although I don't comprehend what they are saying, I love listening to the sing-song language.
And just another block down, I'm in Little Italy. Rob and three of his buddies showed up soon after, and we had a good meal with Italian wine. Rob let me tell a few embarrassing stories about him as a child, and afterwards, we headed upstairs to a "members only" lounge that all West Point cadets are allowed to join to hang out and smoke cigars. (Although the ventilation in the room was very good, everything I was wearing reeks of cigar smoke. Ick!)
We sat on a group of couches and chairs that only had three other guys. Introductions were made, and we learned that these three men were an actor, a cameraman for films, and an entertainment lawyer who also owns his own record label. We started talking about singing, and they asked me to sing something. I sang just one verse of a song and it was well received. The guy in the music business started telling me about different restaurants and jazz clubs around town where anyone can get up and sing, and they encouraged me to go with them to one later that night. Then, someone from another group in the lounge came over and asked if I would come sing to their group! I was flattered and sang for them (Sweet Dreams, a Patsy Cline favorite of mine).
Rob and the other cadets headed back to Grand Central to catch a train back north -- they didn't get weekend passes and just came for the evening -- so I left with the other guys to the restaurant/jazz club. I sang When I Fall in Love (Nat King Cole) with the band and agreed to meet them again sometime.
It was a blast! I stayed out much later than I had anticipated, and I probably had a little too much wine, but it was the most fun I've had in a while.